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British banana price war has repercussions in Latin America

Some people wonder what Colombian farmers are charging for their bananas as, even when they have crossed half the world, from a remote Colombian province to London, these can cost half of what an English apple costs.

Bananas are one of Britain's most beloved fruits. It is one of those products whose prices can entice people to change supermarkets. Thus, these establishments use it for their price wars.

The British Fairtrade organization has started a campaign in London to end this war that has led producers, mostly from Latin American countries, to sell their bananas at prices lower than what it costs to produce them.

Britain is the only European country in which this fruit is now cheaper than it was ten years ago. If a banana costs about 18 pence in the UK in 2002, it is now worth 11 pence; almost half of what an apple grown in Britain costs (20 pence).

"The small farmers and the plantation workers are the collateral damage of the supermarkets' prices war. The poorest people are paying the price for our cheap bananas," said Michael Gidney, the executive director of Fairtrade, at a press conference in London.

Alfonso Cantillo, a Colombian producer of bananas from the region of Magdalena who sells to the UK and was invited to London by Fairtrade, said he receives $8.15 dollars per box - about 18 kilos- but that it cost him $9 dollars to produce it.

"When banana prices decrease, we suffer the impact. Our living conditions worsen. We need stability in prices," he added.

Not even supermarkets win at this war. Fairtrade says these distributors are losing hundreds of thousands of pounds per week due to the trade war.

"I urge you to investigate the retail prices of bananas, to assess the long term impact on the producers and British consumers interests, and to take action based on these findings," says the letter sent to Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business.


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